Written by Angrez Angurana, RCIC at Visaplus

Canada has long prided itself on being a welcoming destination for immigrants. However, the realities of sudden policy changes or pauses without prior transparent communication often create significant hardships for temporary workers and international students. In recent months, many provinces have either paused their intake or reached their maximum intake numbers. The most recent developments, particularly on Prince Edward Island where international students went on strike to have their voices heard, reflect broader issues in the country’s immigration system. Similar episodes could occur in other provinces in the future as frustrated international students and workers resort to similar strikes.

The Journey of International Students and Workers

Temporary workers and international students move to, live in, and work in various provinces with the hope that their contributions will be recognized and they will be prioritized for permanent residency. They often arrive with the expectation of receiving a nomination after making significant contributions to their new communities.

However, the sudden changes or pauses in immigration policies can shatter these expectations. When intake processes are suddenly halted or altered, these individuals are often forced to relocate to other provinces, searching for stability and certainty. This creates a frustrating cycle of continuous movement without any clear direction or assurance of where they might eventually secure a chance at permanent residency.

Moreover, these aspiring permanent residents largely depend on employer’s support or provincial quotas. They must successfully navigate both to secure a pathway to permanent residency, adding another layer of complexity and uncertainty to their journey. For those in employer-driven streams, individuals either need LMIA support from employers or PNP job offer support, which is often not easy to obtain. There are only a few programs where employer support is not needed.

On top of that, the Express Entry’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score is high for general categories. While category-based draws provide some relief for those who fall under targeted NOCs, the lack of regular draws makes the CRS score high for many. Additionally, there has been no Canadian Experience Class (CEC) draw for approximately 2 years and 8 months, and the recent draw on May 31, 2024, had a cutoff of 522, which is very high. International students with only a college diploma or without any degree find it particularly difficult to reach high scores.

As an RCIC, I often receive many inquiries from these students, and the most common question is: “Where should I move to get a PNP or a PR pathway easily?” Due to uncertainty, it is challenging for representatives to provide firm advice on which province is better because no one can be sure when a province will pause its program or reach its intake limits. These aspiring PRs not only struggle with moving between provinces but also change their employment based on in-demand occupations at the federal or provincial levels. Still, there is no guarantee they will be able to get through the PR pathway easily, as in-demand occupations or provincial policies can change at any time. Overall, it feels like these international students and workers are running around without proper direction or firm assurance.

Federal & Provincial Intervention: A Crucial Step for Immigration Reform

It is understandable that provinces have a certain quota per year for nominations. However, to address these recurring issues, it is time for the federal government to step in and increase the economic categories quota. By allocating more spots to the provinces, the federal government can enable them to nominate more candidates. This would provide much-needed stability for international students and temporary workers who are vital to the country’s growth and development.

Furthermore, the lack of consistency in federal Express Entry draws makes it even more unpredictable for those looking to get invitations for permanent residency. Why not have the federal and provincial governments come up with a more transparent plan for immigration projections and intake for the rest of the year and future plans as well?

Economic and Social Benefits

The federal government’s annual overall quota is between 90,000 and 125,000, which seems insufficient, especially with 550,000 for all streams or programs. Economic immigrants, particularly international students and workers in Canada, contribute significantly through their hard work, whether studying or working, and later expect PR based on their long journey. They fill labour market needs, create businesses, and generate employment for others. Therefore, the federal government should consider increasing the number of economic immigrants.

Increasing the quota would not only support the aspirations of immigrants but also offer substantial benefits to the provinces, especially those with smaller populations. More people in these areas would create opportunities for local businesses, leading to more business openings, increased employment, and boosted infrastructure development. The influx of new residents would drive economic growth, fostering vibrant communities and enhancing social cohesion.

Conclusion

The recent situation on Prince Edward Island serves as a poignant reminder of the broader permanent immigration challenges in Canada. To truly be a welcoming destination for immigrants, Canada must address these policy issues with more consistent and transparent communication. By increasing quotas and enabling provinces to nominate more candidates, the federal government can help provide the stability and support that temporary workers and international students need. Additionally, a more transparent plan for immigration projections and intake would alleviate much of the uncertainty faced by immigrants. This approach will not only fulfill the aspirations of many immigrants but also strengthen the economic and social fabric of the provinces.

Disclaimer:

This article reflects my personal opinions and observations on the challenges faced by international students and temporary workers in Canada. It is not intended to provide legal advice.

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